Scholarship Committee

SEMA Member News - January/February 2010

New Jersey Engineer Wins Hurst Camaro on eBay Auction

Proceeds Benefit Students Seeking Automotive Careers

Ernie Feist (left) and his son Ernie Jr. (second from left), had their first chance to see the Hurst Camaro at the SEMA Show. The lion’s share of Feist’s winning $61,000 eBay bid goes directly to the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. On hand to congratulate and thank Feist were (from center to right) Linda Vaughn, Scholarship Committee Chairman Paul “Scooter” Brothers and SEMA Vice President of Councils and Membership Nathan Ridnouer.

“This is my first Camaro!” said Ernie Feist, a long-time car fan and owner of Feist Engineering, a municipal and civil engineering firm in Monroe Township, New Jersey. He took delivery of his brand-new, special-edition Hurst Camaro on November 15.

“The closest thing I’ve owned to a Camaro was a Trans Am that I had in 1979,” he said. “In fact, I just picked up a ’79 Survivor Trans Am exactly the same as the one I had then.”

He decided to make a bid on the Hurst Camaro after receiving an e-mail from a company that pre-qualifies bidders for various eBay auctions. (The Trans Am was an eBay purchase.) The company sent him notification of the Camaro auction, and the fact that it would benefit the SEMA Scholarship Fund caught his eye. He was already familiar with the association, but the idea that the proceeds would benefit education appealed to him.

“I qualified myself on the Thursday before the end of the auction and put in a bid on Friday morning,” he recalled. “Toward the end of the day on Friday, I headed out with a couple of friends to a local restaurant. I got an e-mail while we were there saying that I had been outbid. We pulled up the eBay application on my iPhone and starting bidding from the restaurant’s bar. My friends were behind me, cheering and hollering to keep bidding. I did and, ultimately, won the car!”

Feist took his son, Ernie Jr., to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where they had their first chance to see the Hurst Camaro, but driving it was even better. The lion’s share of Feist’s winning $61,000 bid goes directly to the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, which fosters industry leadership by supporting the education of students who are interested in automotive careers. The fund offers scholarships to today’s brightest students attending various universities, colleges and/or vocational schools in both the United States and Canada.

SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund Online Application Is Live

Calling all students seeking careers in the automotive industry! The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund’s online application went live in December. Qualified students can visit here to access the application.

Since the fund’s inception in 1984, it has awarded more than $1,000,000 in scholarships to more than 400 students engaged in studies leading to careers in the automotive aftermarket or related fields. Upon hearing that he was awarded a SEMA scholarship in 2009, Kale Nicodemus wrote, “I just wanted to say a big ‘thanks’ to everyone who has anything to do with this scholarship. Without your help, I could not receive the education I am getting and would not be able to further my knowledge of the automotive industry. Your scholarship is greatly appreciated, and I will do my best to make the most of it!”

SEMA will offer four-year, two-year, graduate, loan forgiveness and member/dependent scholarships. “Our goal is to foster leadership opportunities in the specialty-equipment marketplace and support educational goals for students,” said Tom Myroniak, SEMA vice president of marketing and market research. “SEMA feels that it is critical to help develop the industry’s next generation.”

As part of the online application, students must provide complete contact information, education history and work history. Scholarships will be awarded based on the selections of SEMA judges and the association’s scholarship committee. To qualify, the applicant must have a 2.5 minimum GPA, a minimum of 25 credits for two-year scholarships, a minimum of 50 credits for four-year awards, proof that the student is in an automotive field of study and a completed application. The applicant will also need to supply SEMA with two letters of recommendation, an essay and current official transcripts, which must be faxed separately. Working for a member company or being a dependent of an employee of a member company significantly enhances the applicant’s chances.

SEMA will be accepting online applications through April 2, 2010.  For more information about the student program, e-mail Jamie Eriksen at


Students From Across the United States Visited the 2009 SEMA Show

Student interns who attended the 2009 SEMA Show prepare for their first day on the Show floor. Every year, SEMA organizes the  student program with colleges, universities and vocational schools to bring students who are enrolled in automotive programs and ultimately pursuing careers in the automotive industry to the SEMA Show. The experience demonstrates all of the opportunities available to students in the specialty-equipment market and helps them make key contacts. 

Automotive students from across the United States headed to Las Vegas to experience the specialty-equipment industry firsthand. “It’s one thing for instructors to discuss our segment of the automotive industry in the classroom,” said Jamie Eriksen, a member of the SEMA education department. “It’s another thing for students to stand in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center to see, hear and touch what our industry is all about. It’s like a light bulb goes off and they decide, ‘Yes, this is where I want to be!’ It fuels their passion for all things automotive.”

Every year, SEMA organizes the student program with colleges, universities and vocational schools to bring students who are enrolled in automotive programs and, ultimately, pursuing careers in the automotive industry to the SEMA Show. The experience demonstrates all of the opportunities available to students in the aftermarket and helps them make key contacts. “We want them to know there is a place for them here,” said Eriksen.

Students participated in a number of SEMA’s educational programs, and some even had the opportunity to volunteer in exhibitors’ booths. SEMA hosted a welcome reception for students and faculty on Monday, November 2, which was also attended by a number of SEMA’s executive staff and Board members. Students were also invited to attend the eBay Keynote Address, the New Products Awards Breakfast, the Young Executives Network reception, the NHRA Breakfast and council receptions. Each event provided them with a unique networking experience.

For more information about the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, contact Jamie Eriksen at or visit